“Do I want to be generous, or do I want to be prideful? Because they cannot walk hand in hand.”
In the New Testament story of Ananias and Sapphira, we learn a crucial lesson – pride and generosity don’t mix.
Liz Curtis Higgs tells the story in her book Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them. Ananias and Sapphira were a couple in the early church who were deceitful with their money. In order to get approval from Peter and the other men, Ananias and Sapphira sold their land and donated the profit to the church. The sin wasn’t in keeping back part of the money but in lying about how much the land was sold for. Peter confronted each of them in turn, and each of them promptly died. They allowed greed and the praise of men to cloud their judgment, and God struck them for it. (Acts 5:1-11)
Liz issues a caution – don’t give because other people will praise you for it.
“The whole idea of giving is letting go completely. That would also mean letting go of the pride, the applause, the attention, and everything that goes with giving. If we say ‘Yay! Look what I gave,’ to me, your gift is undone. Because you’ve taken credit for it! You’ve allowed the pride to overwhelm you. And so it all becomes about the notice that you get and not what you’ve given.”
There are examples all around us of people who are joyful, secret givers. Liz knew a close friend who took joy in leaving money in other people’s Bibles, anonymously.
“This was her favorite way to spend money! She didn’t go off and buy clothes and jewels and whatever. She would slide a hundred dollar bill in an envelope. And then she would slide that envelope in somebody’s Bible. Or in some way to put it in their possession so that it wouldn’t be lost. And it had no notation on it. She just gave the money away.”
Liz caught her doing it one day and decided to follow her lead. She had her daughter with her and put some money into a nearby woman’s Bible. Things went well until her daughter Lily leaned over and said, “Ma’am, be sure and look in your Bible!” pointing out the money. Liz laughs about that story today but says there’s a lesson for us there.
“We can learn from others who give generously. There are ways to do it where literally the only one who knows is you… and God. That’s the kind of secret that is delicious, and healthy, and fun to do if it’s just you and the Lord.”
Featured Songs: The River by Jordan Feliz; Hold On by Toby Mac; Touch the Sky by Hillsong